Lampard: Hard work, not price tag, will change Pulisic’s lack of playing time

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Christian Pulisic remains a talking point in London for undesirable reasons.

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Yet again, Chelsea’s Frank Lampard was asked about Christian Pulisic’s lack of playing time. Yet again, the 41-year-old let it be known that the American – like some of his teammates – is going to have to “show” in training or on the field that he is “worthy” of playing time, adding that his lucrative price tag alone doesn’t guarantee him anything.

“One of my problems in this job is that I have good players and everyone has their story – Christian has a price-tag, Ross Barkley is an international player, so too is Mason Mount,” Lampard said ahead of Sunday’s game against Southampton. “Callum Hudson-Odoi has just signed a new contract, Bayern Munich wanted to buy him, he is an international player, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will come back and be an international player… and I can’t pick them all in the game, unfortunately.”

“All I have to demand of them is that they show me in training or show me in the game, when they get the chances to play, that they are worthy of their place,” he added.

After featuring in Chelsea’s first five games of the season, the 21-year-old has yet to take the field in Premier League play since late August. Midweek, he was omitted from Lampard’s 18-man Champions League list. Throughout the dry spell, Pulisic has only seen playing time in League Cup play, specifically 90 minutes in the Blue’s 7-1 rout of Grimsby Town in which he contributed an assist.

But only days later, following the Blue’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, Pulisic, himself, admitted to ProSoccerTalk’s own Joe Prince-Wright that his lack of playing time was “very frustrating.”

To many, if Pulisic fails to gain minutes at this pace, the conundrum between him and Lampard will continue to worsen.

The Chelsea boss, accounting for Pulisic’s age, recent arrival to England, assimilation to the league, sees the American’s lack of playing time with a different lens. If anything, the winger’s five appearances thus far should be seen as a positive.

“I spoke to Christian two days before the Grimsby game and was very clear about the standards,” Lampard admitted. “And we have to give him the fact he has moved country, leagues and is as young as all the young players we are talking about.”

“He has just turned 21,” he added. “So if anyone is getting too excited about this, they should calm down, frankly, because he has already started five games for us.”

If Pulisic has any hopes of getting a grip on playing time, he’s going to need to do two things: put in hard work and follow Callum Hudson-Odoi’s footsteps, who Lampard praised for responding to criticism positively.

“What he needs to do is work daily, and work to show within the group that he deserves to play – as all the players do,” the Chelsea legend said.

“I’ve been really pleased with Callum’s response to criticism and that has to continue,” he added. “We can all focus on Pulisic, but Callum’s the same. I have to speak in the real world when I speak to them.”

Until then, it’s unlikely Pulisic’s undesirable situation at Stamford Bridge will end, despite his price tag.